Have you ever watched a sports movie that featured a coach that you wished would lead your favorite team? I know I certainly have. This fact led me to wonder if there is some kind of Hall of Fame for movie coaches.
Turns out, to my great surprise, that a Hall of Fame does exist. Established last year (2008) in memory of the great Morris Buttermaker, (who tragically fell into an empty pool he was trying to clean–authorities say this BAC level was three times the legal limit), the Buttermaker Hall of Fame honors the greatest coaches in cinema history.
Currently, Buttermaker is the only member of this Hall of Fame, but that is about to change. Board of Director members Kelly Leak, Ahmad Abdul-Rahim, Tannar Boyle, Timmy Lupus, and Rudi Stein have announced that the general public will be invited to nominate and vote on the 2009 class.
Before I get bombarded with complaints, there is one rule for this hall of fame–the coach can not be based on a real person. As a result, great coaches like Herb Brooks in Miracle, Hermann Boone in Remember the Titans, and Coach Gary Gaines from Friday Night Lights are not eligible.
The following are my selections along with a case for and against each candidate.
Bobby Finstock, Head Basketball Coach for the Beacontown High Beavers
Pros–Led them to the state championship in 1985. Always there to give his kids advice on and off the court such as: “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.”
Cons–Never really fully utilized Chubbs in the post and went without a winning season once Scott Howard graduated.
Norman Dale, Head Coach of the Hickory Huskers
Pros–Coach Dale stressed fundamentals instead of shooting and demanded tough defense. Inventor of the Picket Fence, Dale was always able to get his shooters free. Also served as coach of the Division 3 National Champion Ithica Warriors. Won the 1952 Indiana High School Basketball Championship against power house South Bend Central 42-40 on a Jimmy Chitwood jumper.
Cons–Regrettable incident in Ithica in which he struck a player. Many also argue that hiring Shooter as an assistant coach was not the wisest idea.
Bud Kilmer, Head Football Coach of the West Canaan High Coyotes
Pros–Brought home 22 District Titles and 2 State Titles. Grateful town even named stadium for him including a Bud Kilmer statue. Known for developing college ready quarterbacks and wide receivers.
Cons–Could not keep up with the modern athlete’s needs and whispers of racism (especially via his use of running backs) plague his records.
Swifty, Head Basketball Coach Saint Vitus High School
Pros–One of the first coaches to embrace the fast break, also allowed his players to express their creativity using behind the back passes. Coach Swifty was very generous with his team, often buying them post-game meals. Finally, Swifty demanded a certain moral standard for his team, as he strictly forbade them from stealing from the opposing team.
Cons–Criticized for not being in the dark about his team’s substance abuse problem and fought persistent rumors of improper contact with former students.
Molly McCrath, Head Football Coach for the Central High Wildcats
Pros–By establishing a rigorous strength and condition program that included aerobics, Coach McCrath was quickly able to mold her new team into winners. Led the perennial losing Wildcats to a championship in 1986.
Cons–Accused of bribing her players by former lineman Phillip Finch and criticized for not using Woody Harrelson’s character (Krushinski) more in the slot.
Pete Bell, Western University Dolphins Head Basketball Coach
Pros–The constant motivator, Bell invented the four man motion offense. Only had one losing season at Western. Won 2 national championships and 8 conference titles in his illustrious career. Great at helping big men with their footwork.
Cons–Asleep at the wheel while Tony failed TV and practiced point shaving. In addition, who could forget the Happy recruiting scandal involving Butch McRae, Ricky Roe, and Neon Boudreaux.
Sam Winters, Head Football Coach for the ESU WIldcats
Pros–Led the Wildcats to 6 Bowl Games and one National Championship. Pivotal in developing 1994 Heisman winner Joe Kane’s passing skills. Starting Darnell Jefferson during his freshman year was also a gutsy move that paid instant dividends in the 1993 season.
Cons–Many wonder how he could not know about Lattimer’s steroid problems and that he should have not caved into alumni pressure and allowed Bobby Collins to return to the team after a cheating scandal.
Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, Sensei, Miyagi Do Karate
Pros–Helped train Daniel Larusso to the 1984 All-Valley Under 18 Karate Championship. Using training techniques never seen before including “wax on, wax off” and “paint the fence,” Miyagi quickly transforms Larusso from a punk kid from New Jersey, into a mean, lean, killing machine. It is also rumored that Miyagi had special healing hands that aided in the dramatic recovery of Larusso from a injury endured in the semifinals.
Cons–Ever wonder how Mr. Miyagi got all those cars? Yes, he was a distinguished World War 2 vetran, but he was working as a apartment maintenance man. Well, the IRS asked the same question and he was indicted in 1990 for tax evasion–a black mark on an otherwise squeaky clean career.
Murray Chadwick, Head Coach of the Hamilton Mustangs
Pros–This one-time NHL all star led the Mustangs to a Memorial Cup championship in 1986 led by stars Derek Sutton and promising rookie Dean Youngblood. A former warrior on the ice, Chadwick demands that his players show the same passion when they suit of for him.
Cons–Everyone remembers that ugly incident in Thunder Bay when he knocked out 3 fans. Critics also say that his power play defenses were nicknamed “Miss McGill’s” throughout the league since they were so easy to score on, but this author could not find anyone to go on the recorder to confirm this story.
Jimmy McGinty, Head Coach for the Washington Sentinals
Pros–Always had a eye for talent, was able to put together a replacement team in less than a week that was able to defeat a Dallas team that had all their regular players. An expert in dealing with the psychological aspect of the game, especially the quarterback position.
Cons–Many still wonder why Clifford Franklin was not used in the Wildcat formation, especially before he learned how to catch. Also, lost a little face during the Nigel “The Leg” Gruff’s betting scandal.
Coach Klein, Head Football Coach of the Small Corner of Louisiana University Mud Dogs
Pros–Led the Mud Dogs to a Bourbon Bowl victory in 1998. An offensive genius, Klein was known for his ingenious plays while an assistant for the University of Louisiana Cougars. However, it was his ability to motivate a defensive player, linebacker Bobby Boucher, that ultimately led the Mud Dogs to a championship.
Cons–Why he waited until the Bourbon Bowl to use Boucher on special teams and offense still puzzles Mud Dog fans around the world today. Also criticized because the Mud Dogs annually finish dead last in the APR (Academic Progress Report) that ranks all Football Bowl Subdivision schools teams.
Coach Nickerson, Head Football Coach of Ampipe High School (later secondary coach at Cal Poly University)
Pros–A defensive genius, his secondary schemes helped Ampipe lead the conference in interceptions for 5 straight years. Known for his prolific “Together themed” pre-game speeches that emphasized teamwork and the underdog mentality.
Cons–The game against Walnut Heights High will plague Nickerson for the rest of the career. Why didn’t he just have Rifleman just take a knee instead of handing off to Salvucci, who fumbles and costs Ampipe the game.
Pop Fisher, Manager of the New York Knights
Pros–Led the Knights to the 1939 pennant with the help of slugger Roy Hobbs. The Knights had been stuck in last place for most of the year, but Pop was able to reverse the Knights fortunes.
Cons–Knight fans still argue that Hobbs should have been used earlier in the season, perhaps in a right field platoon with the late Bump Bailey.
Lou Brown, Manager of the Cleveland Indians
Pros–Led the Indians to the playoffs in 1989 with a team of scrappy players and the league’s lowest payroll. Insisted that Willie Mays Hays avoid hitting fly ball, allowing him to leg out an American league high 27 infield hits. A firm believer in fundamentals, refused to accept Roger Dorn’s lackadaisical “ole” fielding techniques at third base.
Cons–Could not get by the White Sox in the ALCS since he was forced to use Rick Vaughn in relief, screwing up his entire rotation. If he would have started Vaughn instead of Eddie Harris, the vaseline ball specialist could have been ready to start game one against the White Sox. The following year when the Indians do make the World Series, it was Jake Taylor that was managing in place of Brown who had suffered a heart attack.
Jimmy Dugan, Manager of the Rockfort Peaches
Pros–Led the Peaches to the 1943 AAGPBL World Series versus the Racine Belles. Dugan’s “There’s no crying in baseball” approach continues to be used today all across the nation. Also responsible for teaching Dottie Henson how to spit.
Cons–Could never teach Evelyn Gardner how to hit the cutoff man and was drunk for the majority of the first half of the season. Probably should have let “All the way” Mae Mordabito bat lead off to better utilize her speed.
Gordan Bombay, Coach of the Ducks (formely known as District 5) pee-wee hockey team
Pros–Led the Ducks to the 1992 pee-wee championship over the favored Hawks via a Charlie Conway penalty shot. Inventor of the Flying V formation and the genius behind the prolific “Oreo” scoring line. Later coached Team USA to a gold medal in the Junior Goodwill Games over Iceland.
Cons–Lost some credibility during the legal posturing of Hawk star Adam Banks. Many felt that Conway should have just let the boy finish the season with the Hawks and his friends and win with the original Duck roster. Was also sued by a family in North Dakota whose son, a hockey goalie, was injured when his team tied him to the cross bar, Goldberg style. The suit was later settled out of court.
Reggie Dunlap–Player/Coach of the Charlestown Chiefs
Pros–Led the Chiefs to the 1977 Federal League Championship after the Syracuse Bulldogs are forced to forfeit. Dunlap’s decision to “goon it up” with the Hanson brothers help increase attendance and give the Chiefs the necessary momentum to make the playoffs.
Cons–After the Chiefs went defunct, Dunlap coached for the Minnesota Nighthawks where he was a complete failure. Dunlap could not adapt to the “no foil” rule and lasted only 2 seasons.
Mickey Goldmill. Rocky’s trainer
Pros–Motivated Rocky to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World from Apollo Creed in 1979. His unique training methods, such as catching the chicken, are still used today. Mickey’s decision to have Rocky fight as a right-hander for the first 14 rounds of the second Creed/Balboa fight confused Apollo and Rocky was able to capitalize when he switched back to a southpaw in round 15.
Cons–Criticized for insisting that Rocky only fight “chumps” once he became champ. In fact, he admitted to Rocky that his opponents were “hand-picked good fighters, but not killers.” Mickey also got into some trouble after the hearing aid that he endorsed in a series of TV commercials were discovered to be faulty and began exploding in victim’s ears.
Waiting for the Vetran’s committee –Patches O’Houlihan from Dodgeball, Coach Joe from Bend it Like Beckham, Chubbs from Happy Gilmore, Anton Pamchenko from The Cutting Edge, “Coach” from Vision Quest, “Skip” from Bull Durham, Larry Hockett from Bull Durham, Ed Gennero from Necessary Roughness, Coach Harris from Revenge of the Nerds, Sal Martinella from Rookie of the Year, and Chester Lee from Lady Bugs
Did I miss any great coaches? Who are your favorites?
Leave me a comment and let the world know.